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The 8-fold path to inner peace

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Here's how to find the serenity that we so easily lose.

Peace, tranquility, agreement, balance, and a calm mind. We are all in search of this state of harmony, and we’ll do practically anything and everything to achieve it. We even look for it in risky places or activities, including resorting to esoteric means, unaware of the enormous dangers (both physical and spiritual) that lie behind them.

Finding inner peace is not a matter of attaining and retaining a state of apathy or indifference, but rather about seeking and finding that interior peace we all desire in the proper way and best places while remaining engaged with life.

If only we fully understood that living in harmony is quite within our reach — more than we often imagine — and that its pursuit and enjoyment need not cost us a penny. There are eight factors – or attitudes that can help us move towards that tranquility and emotional and mental stability. They are outlined in a list commonly attributed to a Duke University study:

1. Live free of constant speculation, and avoid living in a state of distrust or resentment. Feeding resentment is a determining factor in the lives of unhappy people. Let go of all vestiges of resentment; that will require changing any attitudes you may have that do not allow you to advance on the path to forgiveness and, therefore, to advance in love.

2. Avoid living in the past. Walk in the present toward the future. An unhealthy concern with past mistakes and failures can lead to depression. Move on, letting go of the past, so that you may truly experience the present more fully, on the path towards a promising future.

3. Do not waste time or spend energy on things that you cannot change. You have to cooperate with life instead of trying to run away from or against it. Focus on what you can do, using your gifts and talents, until you achieve your goals. Don’t get hooked up on things that are not in your hands or in your power to solve; trust life’s processes. Do what you can, what is our responsibility. As for the rest … if you are a believer, you already know in whose hands to place that.

4. Stay involved in the world that you happen to live in today, and do not hide from it. Do not run away from the world or become a hermit or a loner, even when you must go through emotionally difficult times. The world needs you! Realize that it would not be the same without you.

5. When life makes you go through unfair or challenging moments, do not allow self-pity to overpower you. Accept the fact that no one goes through life without a little suffering and adversity. It is in your hands to choose if you want to be the hero of your own story or cause pity and stay in the role of victim. There will always be problems, but there will also be even more solutions. Whatever is not in our power to solve, we must let go, and move on, but never remain paralyzed.

6. Cultivate timeless virtues: love, humor, compassion, and loyalty. True virtues and values ​​are not passing things that come and go; they remain steady. They reflect our dignity as persons and the true intrinsic value within each one of us.

7. Have realistic expectations regarding yourself. We have to be very realistic about our own abilities, gifts and talents, and, above all, our limitations. If there is a great chasm between one’s own expectations and one’s ability to achieve the goals we desire, then feelings of dissatisfaction and frustration will be inevitable. Know yourself, love yourself, and accept yourself as you are.

8. Find something – or someone – greater than yourself to believe in. Self-centered people hardly ever experience happiness, because it is in giving that we truly receive. There will always be someone to admire and, above all, someone to serve.

Choosing to live in peace is a movement of the spirit, an attitude of life, and a decision. We may experience difficulties and bad feelings that temporarily take the smile off our face, but if we follow these eight tips, our interior peace will reassert itself and our smile will return, time and time again.

This article was originally published in the Spanish edition of Aleteia, and has been translated and adapted here for English-speaking readers by Martha Fernández-Sardina.

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